A World of Good - Pro Bono News
A World of Good includes information about Dechert pro bono cases and pro bono happenings throughout the firm. The topics covered in this issue include:
- United States and European Pro Bono Reception
- Pro Bono Expands Across Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe
- Dechert Attorneys Help Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence in Rural Pennsylvania
- Dechert Team Reverses Conviction for Client Facing a Life Sentence
- Supporting the Creative Spirit: Providing Legal Representation to London Artists
- Dechert and The Immigrant Justice Corps: Expanding Free Legal Representation of Low-Income Immigrants in New York City
- Dechert Examines the Role of the Docks in Courtrooms in England and Wales
- Good Results from Around the World
- Awards and Recognition
United States and European Pro Bono Reception
In March, Dechert held its annual Pro Bono Recognition and Awards Receptions. Andy Levander kicked off the reception from New York by speaking about some major pro bono milestones and victories in the past year. He reminded the firm of the importance of doing pro bono work—which is one of the firm’s Guiding Principles. From Philadelphia, Dan O’Donnell introduced the keynote speaker, James Sandman, the president of the Legal Services Corporation. James spoke on the important role law firm attorneys can play in not only doing pro bono work, but also contributing to the financial stability of legal services providers, who are on the front lines of providing free legal representation to those who cannot afford it. Suzie Turner recognized this year’s Samuel E. Klein Pro Bono Award winners and those at Dechert who performed more than 50 hours of pro bono work in 2014. Due to the time difference, we held a separate reception in Asia, the Middle East and Russia. All in all, it was another great celebration of our pro bono accomplishments, and inspiration for our firm to keep up our pro bono efforts in 2015.
Pro Bono Expands Across Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe
As Dechert continues to expand its geographical scope across the globe, so too does its pro bono footprint. For the second year in a row, we have held two pro bono receptions to accommodate the 17-hour difference between our offices in Asia and our offices in California. This year, our Asia/Middle East/Eastern Europe reception was hosted by our Dubai office, which opened in 2012 and became involved in our pro bono program immediately thereafter.
Suzie Turner, Dechert’s Pro Bono Partner, traveled to Dubai to reflect upon and celebrate the pro bono accomplishments of our Almaty, Beijing, Dubai, Hong Kong, Moscow, Singapore, and Tbilisi offices. The attorneys, trainees, paralegals and staff in these offices have worked incredibly hard on some fascinating pro bono matters—often in markets where the concept of “pro bono” is not readily practiced. In fact, between 2013 and 2014, these offices increased the firm’s overall pro bono hours by more than 50 percent.
In her opening remarks Suzie stated, “I respect that what we do in each city and each country reflects the culture and the individual needs of each of our jurisdictions. I thank you all, because many of you are in very challenging jurisdictions and you’ve all shown and demonstrated tremendous creativity in finding pro bono opportunities.”
As we did last year, representatives from each office spoke briefly about a project they recently worked on. The breadth and quality of their work shows that Dechert attorneys are truly making a difference around the world. Below is a synopsis of some of the innovative pro bono projects happening across Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe:
Roman Nurpeissov described the office’s work to analyze Kazakhstan code regarding family law, adoptions, and foster care for a foundation that operates orphanages, schools and hospitals for children with disabilities. Yevgeniya Nossova also reported on how the market for pro bono in Kazakhstan is virtually non-existent for both domestic and international law firms and that the work Dechert is doing is not only expanding work for our own clients, but is setting a standard for other firms.
Mariana Zhong detailed the efforts her colleagues have undertaken to participate in the burgeoning pro bono scene in Beijing, including participating in the PILnet Asia Pro Bono Forum and lecturing at local universities on the challenges attorneys face when conducting pro bono work in China. Recently, the IP group assisted a New York-based immigration organization with trademark registration issues. Several attorneys assisted on legal research projects that analyzed the criminal justice system in China, focusing on bail procedures, the rights of female abuse victims against their abusers, and juvenile justice.
Charbel Atallah, in addition to being presented with the Dubai office’s first Sam Klein award, Charbel described in detail his work with Friends of Cancer Patients, a group that supports cancer patients of all nationalities living in the United Arab Emirates. Charbel, and others in the office, provided corporate governance advice and drafted agreements that the group could use with local hospitals and international NGOs. Dechert’s three-year relationship with the charity has led to many personally satisfying projects for the attorneys involved.
Monique Lee recounted an innovative project with Open Octopus, a tech start-up that is registered in Hong Kong, but is based in Kyrgyzstan and develops microfinance software that it provides for free to microfinance institutions in Central Asia, India, Africa, Latin America and North America. Dechert’s team drafted license extensions for its open source software as well as drafted software development and support agreements for its technical support programs. Dechert plans to remain involved with the client for any future licensing activities it may undertake.
Yuri Makhonin described a litigation matter in which an immigrant from Armenia was illegitimately deported from Russia despite the client’s valid work permit and ties to family living in Moscow. The case is scheduled to go before the Russian Constitutional Court, because of the disparate way immigration laws are enforced in Moscow and St. Petersburg versus the rest of Russia. Yuri’s team is hoping that this scrutiny of the unequal enforcement of immigration laws will set a precedent for change.
Archil Giorgadze presented on three different pro bono clients being served by attorneys in the Tbilisi office. Dechert helped We Help, a charity that raises funds for low-income medical patients, achieve charity status under Georgia tax law, which will vastly improve the organization’s ability to fundraise. Additionally, Child and Environment, a group that provides services for homeless youth, retained Dechert to assist in a property dispute over a government-owned building that the organization was renting as a homeless shelter. And lastly, Dechert has a longstanding relationship with First Step Georgia, a school for children with special needs. We have reviewed several of their employment contracts, and have most recently assisted with the development of a plot of land that the school received.
Attorneys from Dechert’s Singapore office, which opened just last August, are already engaged in various pro bono projects, and we look forward to their presentation at the 2016 Pro Bono Reception.
Dechert Attorneys Help Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence in Rural Pennsylvania
By: Robert Masterson
Since March 2013, Dechert has worked with seven other firms in the Philadelphia area, along with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and the Nationalities Services Center (NSC), to bring legal services to underserved immigrant communities as part of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel’s Project IMPACT (Involving More Pro Bono Attorneys in our Communities Together). Dechert has focused on providing legal solutions to victims of domestic violence through outreach programs in Philadelphia and rural Chester County, Pennsylvania, an agricultural region with a large immigrant labor force.
Although Chester County is generally a wealthy region, the large number of mushroom farms and other agricultural businesses have resulted in an increase of migrant laborers in the area, many with origins in Mexico and Central America. Low wages, coupled with the fear of deportation that undocumented immigrants face, resulted in many cases of domestic violence within the migrant population. Despite the one hour commute to Center City Philadelphia, clients in Chester County had limited access to public transportation and were unable to reach the legal services providers in Philadelphia. Therefore, Dechert focused its efforts on bringing legal aid to the clients where they would benefit the most – in their community.
The eight firms participating in the IMPACT project rotate in staffing monthly intake clinics at community organizations in Philadelphia and Kennett Square, Chester County. Sue Nieto and I coordinated the project for Dechert. In June 2013, Dechert paralegals Jane Patullo and Denise Neris conducted Dechert’s first intake clinic at La Comunidad Hispana in Kennett Square. In addition to confirming potential clients’ eligibility, Jane and Denise gathered documents and initial statements from potential clients and organized the materials for volunteer attorneys. Partnering with the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County, the potential clients were able to obtain certifications from law enforcement that demonstrated their cooperation with the criminal investigations against their abusers.
Dechert attorneys Linda Dwoskin, Teri Lynn-Evans, Vinnie Gallo, Allie Misner, and Ashley Prime have been working with our paralegals and supervising partners Ethan Fogel and Susan Hendrickson on the resulting cases, helping our clients escape domestic violence without leaving their children or the United States. Our ongoing IMPACT cases include both petitions under VAWA (Violence Against Women Act), an area in which Dechert has a thriving practice in Philadelphia, and applications for U Visas, which enable a crime victim who is willing to assist law enforcement in prosecuting a crime to stay in the United States.
The firms contributing to the IMPACT project have developed extensive training materials for VAWA and U Visa cases which have helped volunteer attorneys quickly get up to speed. After several IMPACT clinics, intakes, and placed cases, HIAS informed us that the backlog of domestic violence victims waiting for lawyers in Chester County has now subsided. The community organizations there – La Communidad Hispana and the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County – were extremely grateful for Dechert’s role in helping dozens of clients find immigration relief and stability in their lives. The IMPACT project continues today with more referrals directly from HIAS for immigrants, both urban and rural, who are the victims of domestic violence and other serious crimes. Dechert’s IMPACT team plans to continue representing more clients, and encourages interested attorneys and paralegals to get involved.
Dechert Team Reverses Conviction for Client Facing a Life Sentence
By: Amanda Tuminelli
For Dechert’s white collar litigators, the ability to save a client from facing criminal penalties is all a part of the job. But in the pro bono context – those same advocacy skills can truly give a person new life.
On March 11, 2015, after a one-week jury trial in the New York State Supreme Court, Queens County, Dechert secured a complete acquittal for a pro bono client charged with robbing a Radio Shack store in June 2009. In 2010, our client was convicted on two counts of armed robbery and received a sentence of 22 years to life. Dechert’s representation began on appeal, where we successfully convinced the Appellate Division, Second Department to overturn the conviction based on the erroneous admission of hearsay evidence suggesting that our client was identified on the basis of an anonymous tip.
At the retrial, Matthew Mazur and I represented our client who maintained that he was wrongly identified from his arrest. In our examinations of the complaining witness, we questioned the likelihood of her ability to accurately identify the person who had robbed the Radio Shack five years earlier. Video surveillance evidence entered at trial showed a man wearing sunglasses and a hooded sweatshirt, who was in the store for approximately one minute. During that minute, the video surveillance confirmed that the complaining witness had her back to the robber for a majority of that time. Ultimately, we were able to convince the jury that the complaining witness’ view of the perpetrator was extremely limited and therefore, not reliable. After only four hours of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty on both counts.
This victory was a true team effort. Andy Levander and Jim McGuire supplemented the appellate brief, with paralegal support from Bernard Powell, and secretarial support from Karen Campione, Ameena Rodriguez, and Gloria Morales. Matthew and I handled the retrial, with research support from Negin Hadaghian, Bernard and the NYC Managing Clerks (Luis Lopez, Bryan Block, and Jeff Holder). Furthermore, Zach Zuniga modeled the clothes worn by the perpetrator. The trial team also benefitted from the insights of several former prosecutors at the firm, including Ed McDonald, Mike Gilbert, Jeff Brown and our own in-house mock jury of Queens residents Bryan Block, Shakira Brown, Jeanette Starr, Ameena Rodriguez, Connie Liu, William Luciani, and Daphne Ha.
Our client, who is now 60 years old, was released from Rikers Island on April 8, 2015, after serving five and a half years in jail. His first wish was to visit the grave of his mother, who died while he was incarcerated. In April 2015, our client came to our office to say hello, which was the first time we were able to meet with him outside of prison walls. He is lucky to have the support of his extended family and plans to relocate to Arizona, where he hopes to rebuild his life.
Supporting the Creative Spirit: Providing Legal Representation to London Artists
From William Shakespeare to Paul McCartney, London has always been a prolific space in which artists can hone, display and promote their craft. However, for such a scene to thrive there needs to be more than mere creativity—legal skills can help build an infrastructure to support an arts community.
In 2012, a group of London law firms came together to set up Lawyers Volunteering for the Arts (LVFA), which offers pro bono legal services to the arts community. LVFA’s aim is to connect pro bono solicitors with low income and not-for-profit arts and cultural organizations or community groups, who would otherwise not be in a position to afford legal advice. LVFA provides support to organizations active in any aspect of the creative sector, including visual arts and performance arts such as music, dance and theater. Over the past two years, Dechert has received a steady stream of LVFA matters which capitalize on both the skills and passions of our attorneys.
Our first LVFA project was with a group that offered event space for emerging artists through an innovative time banking scheme. The organization planned to expand and offer more facilities and a community space. The Dechert team, composed of Chris Gardner, Charles Corman, Deepa Parmar, Max Rigden, David Gervais, Madeleine White and Bill Fryzer, agreed to review and advise the organization in relation to its current occupation arrangements and a new lease of their premises. We also assisted them in selecting the organizational structures that would best suit their purposes. Over a year later, we continue to work with the organization as they lease more communal space for rising artists.
Another LVFA matter Dechert advised on involved two women from Essex, aged 80 and 64, who wished to secure the future of their arts studio by establishing a charitable trust. Their arts space provides facilities for artists, craftspeople and designers and offers a gallery free to the public, which presents a series of exhibitions of work by resident artists. Graham Defries and Jessica O’Gorman helped the studio register as a charity, assisted by Andrew Harrow, Dan Hawthorne, Amy Rees, Nicolas Kokkinos and Dylan Balbirnie. Their aid in developing the charitable trust will preserve the artistic mission of these two remarkable clients.
We were then referred to assist an artist led visual arts development agency that provides opportunities to engage with contemporary visual arts and crafts. The agency asked for advice in relation to the process and requirements to set up and register as a charity. Their not-for-profit status had restricted access to funding from trusts and foundations, and they wished to review the benefits of registering as a charity. Andrew Hougie, Alison Couchman and Jennifer Wileman, provided initial advice on the process to register the company as a charity, the structures available and whether some of the activities performed by the company would constitute impermissible trading. In the future, if the client wishes to proceed, Andrew’s team will prepare the constitutional and registration documents required to register the company as a charity.
Jeremy Grose, Scott Curtis, Kate Astbury, Lianne Endall and Elizabeth Alibhai have assisted in other LVFA matters including real estate landlord-tenant arbitrations for the largest UK-based organization supporting sculptors, employment advice for a world-class touring puppetry theater, and the negotiation of a lease for an arts group wishing to transform an abandoned electrical substation into an exhibit space.
As evidenced above, these LVFA matters have employed the talents of attorneys from a wide range of practice groups and experience levels. The work has introduced our volunteers to a colorful palette of clients with an inspiring level of creativity and passion, but who now also have the very necessary legal tools that will help fulfill their artistic missions.
Dechert and The Immigrant Justice Corps: Expanding the Free Legal Representation of Low-Income Immigrants in New York City
By: Caroline Levin
Two years ago, the Honorable Robert Katzmann, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, saw a crisis in the courtroom: the nation’s immigration courts were being flooded with low-income respondents facing deportation, many of whom had legitimate grounds for relief based on persecution, victimization, and exploitation. Many of these immigrants were appearing in court without representation – they could not afford paid private counsel, nor were they fortunate enough to connect with one of the scarce legal services attorneys to represent them pro bono. Judge Katzmann recognized that the removal of unrepresented immigrants with valid cases was a serious gap in the justice system—one that affected thousands in his home of New York City.
To help create more access to free legal services, Judge Katzmann wanted to develop a cadre of 40 recent law school graduates, called Justice Fellows, who would dedicate their budding legal careers to the representation of low-income immigrants. These young attorneys would be trained and mentored with immigration law skills, then placed with existing, well-established legal services providers in the city. They would be supported by recent college graduates, called Community Fellows, who would similarly be trained to assist with the administrative and procedural work that often accompanies immigration matters. From Judge Katzmann’s vision was born the Immigrant Justice Corps (IJC).
While Dechert has a long history of direct pro bono representation of low income immigrants as well, our partnership with the IJC involved no immigration law whatsoever. Instead, it was our corporate, tax, employment, and intellectual property attorneys who lent their services to help establish the administrative backbone of the Corps. Like the founders of many nonprofits, the IJC needed help with incorporation, securing tax-exempt status, crafting template employment contracts, and copywriting original material. For a complex organization like the IJC—which would involve new attorneys, recent college graduates, thousands of potential clients, and the partnership of community organizations, the courts, and government agencies—a diverse and agile legal team was needed.
One of the IJC’s initial funders, the Robin Hood Foundation, had worked with Dechert in the past on a variety of matters supporting both the foundation itself, as well as other organizations that the foundation supported. The Robin Hood Foundation contacted then Dechert partner Holland West to help lead the efforts in establishing the Corps. Holland assembled a multi-office, multi-practice team including myself, Joe Gribbin, Alex Cao, Eric Rubin, Tyler Stevens, and Nicolle Jacoby. When Holland retired at the end of 2014, Nicolle took over as lead attorney on the project.
The new Executive Director, Rachel Tiven, recently commented that Dechert’s work: “I knew Dechert from their commitment to pro bono asylum cases, so it is no surprise that working with them on the formation of Immigrant Justice Corps has been such a pleasure. The commitment and focus they brought to developing our fellowship structure has made our inaugural year a success. Working with Holland West, Nicolle Jacoby, and their team was really the epitome of quality representation: Holland helped us negotiate a contract dispute with attention and creativity, and Nicolle has made sure that everything from our new lease to our employee handbook got the right scrutiny. We are so grateful for Dechert’s support in launching Immigrant Justice Corps.”
Dechert is proud to have had a hand in developing this worthy and extremely needed project. We continue our partnership with the IJC today and hope that our efforts, and the efforts of the Corps’ Justice and Community Fellows, will help alleviate some of the overwhelming surge of pro se respondents in immigration court. Only with high-quality representation will these individuals truly be able to access justice.
Dechert Examines the Role of the Docks in Courtrooms in England and Wales
By Anneka Randhawa
Jonathan Pickworth, Fred Kelly (London), Suzanne Turner (Washington), Christine Chua (Silicon Valley) and myself recently assisted JUSTICE, a UK-based law reform and human rights organization, with the preparation of a report detailing the use of secured holding “docks” in criminal trial courtrooms in England and Wales. Currently, in England and Wales, all adult defendants remanded in custody appear in secure docks for trial, while most bailed defendants appear either in open or secure docks, dependent upon what is available.
JUSTICE considered whether defendants should be placed in docks for trial at all, from the perspective of the presumption of innocence, effective participation in one’s own defense, and human dignity. The report recommends a radical departure from current custom and asks lawyers and decision makers to reconsider the position of the defendant.
On July 1, Dechert hosted the launch of the report, where the Lord Chief Justice gave an address. It was a successful evening and the report received great press coverage.
Further information and a copy of the report, entitled In the Dock: Reassessing the use of the dock in criminal trial, may be found on the JUSTICE website.
Good Results from Around the World
Fred Gerhart (Philadelphia) assisted Scholar Academies, an educational nonprofit, in appealing a denial of their application for tax-exempt status with the IRS. Scholar Academies manages six nonprofit charter schools, all in very low-income disadvantaged neighborhoods. The IRS had denied their initial application because they did not consider “management” to be a charitable activity. After filing a 41-page Protest with the IRS Appeals Office, the client received a favorable determination letter in March 2015. This case has national implications because there are numerous nonprofit charter management organizations across the United States that operate much like Scholar Academies, and will now be able to benefit from this precedent and obtain their own tax-exempt status. The CEO of Scholar Academies expressed to Fred his elation and relief that this long, tiring battle with the IRS was finally over.
Cathy Botticelli and Emily Shea (Washington) helped a woman from El Salvador, and her children, obtain U-visas on the basis that she is an immigrant victim of a serious crime. In 2009, our client was assaulted by a guard at a United States detention facility near the Mexican border. Despite having suffered a severely traumatizing experience, our client fully cooperated in the subsequent investigation and prosecution of the officer. With our assistance, our client obtained a U-visa in October, which allows her to live and work in the United States and eventually apply to become a legal permanent resident. We also obtained U-visas for her 9-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son, who at the time were still living in El Salvador. Last month, our client's children were reunited with their mother after spending six years apart.
Declan O’Sullivan and Emma McDonnell (Dublin) assisted longstanding pro bono client The Wheel on the negotiation of an outsourcing agreement with Capita, the company handling the rollout of Ireland’s first postal code system later this year. The Wheel, working closely with Irish Rural Link, is leading a nationwide effort to reach people who may be left behind when the new postal codes are introduced. Of particular concern are the older more isolated residents who may not understand, or may become confused by, this change. The Wheel had previously assisted with a community outreach program regarding the national switch to digital TV. The client sent glowing remarks regarding Declan and Emma’s work, praising their “indefatigable application...on our behalf” and “another Dechert experience that was only positive."
Joe Escher and Amanda Gossai (San Francisco) received happy news that their client, a six-year old boy who was expelled from school for behavior linked to a disability, is now enrolled and attending an elementary school that meets his educational needs. Thanks to the efforts of Joe, Amanda, and the client’s advocates from Public Counsel and the Disability Rights Legal Center (DLRC) of Los Angeles, the boy is now in a class that offers him appropriate supports and in a school that provides him with, among other things, much needed counseling services. According to counsel from DLRC, Joe and Amanda took “the laboring oar on the filings and for helping devise the case strategy” in regard to the client’s appeal for an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). The adjudicator found that the behavior that led to the expulsion was a manifestation of the child’s disability, resulting in the school district having to remove all references of the expulsion from the IEP.
John LaRocca and Kevin Silk (Philadelphia) worked on the successful transfer of The Lindsey Meyer Teen Institute (LTMI), a program operated by our client The Lindsey Meyer Memorial Foundation, to the umbrella organization Partners in Prevention. Through Dechert’s work, LTMI, a youth leadership training program for students in New Jersey, now has access to the slate of services offered by Partners in Prevention, which provides a wide range of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug prevention services to those in Hudson County, New Jersey. Our client expressed great excitement over this new partnership: “The expertise and support that Partners in Prevention will provide will allow LMTI to flourish in new and meaningful ways. We couldn't be happier to entrust this program, which means so much too so many, to such a capable group."
Krystyna Blakeslee, Laura Ciabarra, Kate Mylod and Edward Stack (Hartford) and Carla Moore (New York) negotiated and finalized a mortgage loan for the Hispanic Health Council, a nonprofit that works to eliminate health disparities and improve the well-being of low-income Latinos in Connecticut. The financing was secured by two buildings that are owned by the Hispanic Health Council. The buildings are used as administrative offices as well as for many of the programs (such as nutrition services, health promotion, training, youth services, pre and post-natal services, breastfeeding peer counseling, supported employment, community based research and advocacy) that make the Hispanic Health Council an important part of the Latino community in Connecticut. Both the client and Pro Bono Partnership, the referring agency, were extremely grateful for Dechert’s assistance, praising the team for being “awesome” and “unflappable,” and noting: “At every step of the way your responsiveness, attention to detail and professionalism was on display.”
Jim McGuire and Matt Mazur (New York) won a criminal appeal for an elderly man in upstate New York who was coerced into pleading guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the shooting of his brother. Over a month before the trial was scheduled to commence, the trial court was alerted to compelling evidence that the client was highly intoxicated at the time of the crime, per the results of a blood alcohol level test. The judge stated that he would advance the scheduled trial date by a week if he concluded that an intoxication defense would not be available to the client at trial. Moving up the trial date by a week would also have prevented a crucial defense expert on toxicology from testifying. Rather than risking trial the next week and facing the prospect of a second-degree murder conviction, which would have entailed a life sentence, the client plead guilty to manslaughter. The client’s original appellate attorney was unable to continue his representation due to a battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease, so Jim McGuire and Matt Mazur took over the case. The Appellate Division, Third Division, of the New York Supreme Court reversed the conviction, agreeing that the guilty plea was taken under unconstitutionally coercive circumstances. In addition, the appellate court agreed that the conviction should be reversed because the trial court had failed during the plea allocution to make adequate inquiry of the client regarding the intoxication defense. The attorney’s sister, who enlisted Jim to take the case commented: “A thoughtful, carefully analyzed decision. Justice was clearly served.”
In April, Dechert’s Philadelphia office hosted a clinic for women entrepreneurs in partnership with the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC), Philadelphia VIP and the Association of Corporate Counsel. The clinic provided legal advice to small business owners and micro entrepreneurs who are opening, or maintaining, small businesses in developing or underserved communities in and around Philadelphia. During the evening clinic, a total of fifteen clients, who participate in WBDC’s business counseling program, met with approximately 25 attorneys, which included more than a dozen Dechert attorneys and attorney volunteers from locally-based in-house legal departments of businesses such as TE Connectivity, Exelon and ACE Group. The clinic was coordinated by Andrew Braid (Philadelphia) along with representatives of WBDC and Philadelphia VIP. Dechert hopes to collaborate on similar clinics in the future.
Awards and Recognition
Over the past few months, Dechert has received several noteworthy accolades for its pro bono program, as well as for the pro bono work of individual attorneys at the firm. Here are some highlights of the recognitions we have received recently:
The American Lawyer published its 2015 AmLaw 200 Pro Bono Rankings and Dechert, once again, was recognized as one of the top law firms for pro bono. Rankings are based on a combination of breadth of commitment (measured by the percentage of lawyers who performed over 20 pro bono hours) and the average pro bono hours per attorney. Dechert ranked second overall in the international pro bono rankings, which surveyed law firms with 20 or more non-U.S. based lawyers. In its report, The American Lawyer highlighted Dechert’s global work on the Raising Her Voice project, supporting gender rights in Kenya. Additionally, Dechert ranked fourth overall in the U.S. pro bono rankings, ranking first with respect to the percentage of U.S. based lawyers who performed more than 20 hours of pro bono work, and eleventh with respect to the average number of pro bono hours per lawyer.
Immigration Equality selected Dechert as one of the recipients of their 2015 Safe Haven Awards. These awards recognize firms that have demonstrated excellence in representing the pro bono clients of Immigration Equality. The organization serves LGBT asylum seekers who have fled their home countries due to persecution based on their sexual orientation. Dechert has been a part of Immigration Equality’s Pro Bono Network for over ten years, and has contributed over 1,300 pro bono hours in 2014 alone. Dechert’s work on dozens of trials, asylum interviews, and federal appeals have paved the way for these immigrants to find stability and safety in the U.S. Suzie Turner accepted the award at the Safe Haven gala in New York City on May 21, 2015.
The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) honored Dechert with its 2015 Beacon of Justice Award. This award is given to law firms that display exceptional pro bono leadership by expanding opportunities for the underserved in areas such as education, health care, housing, and legal services. Dechert was recognized for our work expanding access to education through legal assistance to charter schools, helping tenants remain in their homes, and supporting the establishment and growth of small businesses. Paul Lee accepted the award at the NLADA Exemplar Award Dinner in Washington, DC on June 23, 2015.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Wisconsin presented Dechert with its 2015 Cooperating Attorney Award for our work in challenging the restrictive voter identification laws of Wisconsin. The Dechert team, composed of Neil Steiner, Craig Falls and Angela Liu, were praised for their diligence, creativity, and passion for ensuring that all Wisconsinites have the ability to vote. Angela received the award on behalf of the team at an event in Madison, Wisconsin on May 18, 2015. Read more about the team’s work in our last issue of World of Good.
Several Dechert offices ranked highly in the 2015 TrustLaw Index of Pro Bono, which serves as a benchmark for mapping the global scale and trends of the pro bono legal sector. Specifically, Dechert was ranked first in the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Ireland; second in Russia; third in Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong; fourth in France; and, fifth in Germany, mainland China, and the United States.